Working from home, hybrid working conditions, flexible working arrangements, whatever you want to call it, everyone’s doing it. The only question is, are you doing it right? Learning how to set up a home office could mean the difference between productivity and procrastination. And it all comes down to two critical factors: ergonomics and style.
An ergonomic home office is about decreasing fatigue, discomfort and physical stress, while style is about creating an atmosphere that makes you want to get things done!
Keep reading to learn how to achieve an ergonomic and stylish home office setup for a weekend DIY project, or you can hire someone to do it all for you.
Ergonomics is the science of designing and arranging workstations to fit their intended use. More than just organising your workspace or keeping your desk clean and tidy, ergonomic workstations are critical to reducing sedentary work-related fatigue that could potentially lead to injury.
Sedentary work and behaviour, such as prolonged sitting, pose significant health risks, according to SafeWork NSW. Although a majority of Aussie office workers (76%) spend most of their day (roughly 5 hours) sitting down, a quarter reported spending more than 8 hours sitting down.
This type of sedentary behaviour can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, type II diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders.
Several Australian Standards apply to workstation ergonomics, covering height-adjustable swivel chairs (AS/NZS 4438:1997), office desks (AS/NZS 4442:1997) and interior and workplace lighting (AS/NZS 1680.1:2006). For example, the AS/NZS 4438:1997 foreword opens with, “It is important for the health and comfort of chair users at work to take into account the general principles and minimum requirements of ergonomic”, demonstrating its critical importance to the design and use of workspaces.
While ergonomics does its best to consider the user population’s size, height and shape, one drawback to most ergonomic design choices is accessibility. The Australian Standard for height-adjustable swivel chairs requires manufacturers to “accommodate at least the fifth to the ninety-fifth percentile range of the user population for height-adjustable swivel chairs.” Meaning that some user customisation is required to achieve a suitable ergonomic workstation.
Unless you’re planning to renovate your home or rebuild, it’s unlikely you’ll be creating a home office from the ground up. To keep things simple, we’ll organise workstation ergonomics into the following categories: desk, chair, peripherals (keyboard, mice, etc.), monitor position and lighting.
(Based on AS/NZS 4442:1997)
- Flat, smooth surface
- Neutral, non-reflective finish
- Round corners
- No obstructions under the desk
- Height adjustable (at least 150mm, from 610mm to 760mm in height)
(Based on AS/NZS 4438:1997)
- Position your hips as far back into the chair as possible
- Adjust the seat height, so your feet are flat on the floor, with your knees at 90 degrees
- Use a footrest if necessary
- Position the chair backrest at 100 to 110 degrees
- Armrests at elbow height
- Five-wheel chair base
If you’ve got an old desk or office chair that needs a bit of tender, love and care, check out these top tips to make your furniture look brand new.
- Keyboard placed directly in front of you
- Shoulders relaxed, elbows close to the body
- Wrists should be straight and aligned with forearms
- Adjust keyboard height to avoid bending wrists upward
- Position the computer mouse as close to the keyboard as possible
- Adjust monitor height to be level or slightly below your eye line (looking slightly downward)
- Position the screen at least 51cm from your eyes (roughly an arm’s length)
- Larger screens like ultra-wide monitors may need to be positioned further back
- Move the screen away from windows to reduce glare
- Place monitor to the side of light sources
- Avoid placing the screen directly underneath the lights
(Based on AS/NZS 1680.1:2006)
- There are several recommended illumination levels (lux) for various tasks.
- Lux is the measurement of luminance or illumination of a one-metre square area.
- The standard illumination range for workstation tasks is between 160 and 400 lux.
- For more visual tasks, an illumination of 600 lux is needed.
We’ve arrived at the more subjective side of setting up your home office. Fortunately, there are no right or wrong answers to the style and aesthetics of your workspace. We highly recommend surrounding yourself with decorations to create a working environment that is conducive to getting things done!
To get you started, here are some home office decorations to get you in the zone!
- Indoor plants
- Hang artwork and posters on the wall
- Custom wallpaper
- Desk organisers and accessories
- Pencil holders, stationary etc.
- Use wall space to create a mood board
- Install decorative smart-lighting
- Add a couch or reading chair if you have the space
- Include personal touches
- Family photos, mementos, trinkets, etc.
Don’t have the time to arrange your home office? Need help optimising your workspace to maximise your productivity? Hire a team of experienced office furniture removalists to make setting up your home organisation and office setup a breeze.